One cruise ship visits Haines each Wednesday. Cruise crowds roam the downtown shops and a few folks make the excursion to our cabin for glacier views. An elderly German man barges into our cabin and interrupts a discussion we’re having with some new friends, K.C. and Gretchen. “Move out the way, I get photo through window.” He lifts a camera with a long lens. Mare and I decide to designate Wednesdays as our “day off” from that point on.
Here we sit…Mare, Jack and I among wildflower and glacier views from the rocky coast of Moose Meadows. Jack drinks from a freshwater stream, which is the last source of reliable water along Seduction Point Trail. Two Bald Eagles hover above like kites sailing in the wind. Time to move on. We feel a strange seduction, like the dance of a Cobra luring us into a trance, enticing us into the dark woods.
We trek under the canopy, singing songs to scare the bears away. I made up these verses just the other day, while in a weird Andy Griffith mentality: Meet me down at the waterin’ hole, and I might be your friend some mo…Take me to your fishin’ hole, and I will be your friend fo shor…Now tell me, would that not scare a bear?
The descent through a dark forest grade opens into a rocky beach. The first of “Twin Coves” shows some signs of previous hikers, in the form of driftwood benches and garbage covered by a discarded rubber raft. We snack on bananas and nuts. After the break, we negotiate our steps over slippery rocks.
The next cove looks just like its twin, except for the rocks growing larger. Jack has a hard time. His legs slip between the baby boulders. Where is that trail? A small sign soon entices us with an arrow pointing towards the forest. “Come on in…I’m beautiful,” we almost hear. Our pace quickens upon entry.
Bear scat scatters along the trail in this darker forest. Our silly songs sing louder. Jack trips and limps on ocassion…the first tell of the degenerative discs in his 9 year-old back. Am I strong enough to carry a 70 pound dog back up these hills? The seductive Cobra begins to surround its prey. This trail leads us down a steep, root-layered hill which ends at “David’s Cove.” We now trek on a coastline of medium-size boulders, camouflaged by tall weeds. Jack slows his pace, and so do we…trying not to twist an ankle.
Rising tide waters splash against the big black boulders that frame the southern end of the cove. We try to climb the rocks while sharp winds blow whitecaps into disintegration.
“This can’t be the way,” Mare says.
“It is,” I respond
“I’ll go scout it.”
I climb the boulders around the first point and see yet more of them, leading to another point. Upon my return to Mare and Jack, we backtrack along the cove, hoping for a sign to seduce us into the woods and away from the monster rocks. We find nothing. “The brochure points out one-half mile of boulders,” I say.
Away we trek, climbing, lifting Jack up to higher plateaus. “Maybe it gets better around that next point,” Mare says. We push. Around the next point looms another stretch of black boulders that lead to another point. Here we stand, one-half hour later, too far inside to pull out. We move forward so that the rising tide will not strand us. Poor Jack, he hurts. His paw pads swell and bleed. This terrain is one place where two legs are better than four.
At this point of no return we push on. Jack curls into a lamb position and licks his paws. I cradle him, lift him and high step up to a three-foot rock. He jumps out of my arms, sensing my close collapse. Whipping wind scratches our eyes. This one-half mile boulder climb along the coast feels much longer.
Finally, around another point we spot smaller rocks! Where’s the trail? A sign post that once held a marker must be our clue. Perhaps a bear tore it down, with hopes of lunching on lost trekkers. Or maybe it was that Cobra. Regardless, the lone post seduces us back into the woods. Now we walk through fresh bear scat and waist-high weeds. Not much of a trail. “Take me down to the fishin’ hole…” gets pretty loud.
Down the hill we spot a beach. A sand bar connects the peninsula to Delasuga Island. We plop down on some driftwood and give Jack most of our water. Mare and I lunch on avocado and tomato sandwiches. Jack gets dog food which he barely eats, but he takes a few bites of sandwich. He licks his swollen, bloody paw pads and circles around, not able to get comfortable. He limps and cannot lift a leg to piss, so he squats, hind quarters trembling.
The Cobra finally bites us…still, seduction teases us. We want so bad to finish, to conquer the easy, forty-five minutes to Seduction Point, along the final spine of the peninsula. But we feel horrible about Jack. How could we do this to him? I can’t carry him back across those boulders.
The trail may have seduced us, but we are like serious flirters, who decide not to cheat (go all the way) at the last-minute. Jack is all that matters. Hell with Seduction Point…we may have been seduced but now we just want to leave before morning, like a midnight lover. This marks the first time Mare and I have not finished a trail.
How will we all get out of here? The only way back is the way we came in, over that half mile of boulders and six other miles through the woods and along the rocky shore.
Back up the hill…trekking through the weeds and bear scat…singing those loud silly songs, with a dog who limps and stumbles. Tears well-up in our eyes, while I carry Jack over some high boulders and when Mare lifts his hind quarters. I unleash him to see if he does better finding his own way. He couldn’t chase anything if he wanted anyway. We are heartbroken. How could we have done this to the dog we love as our child?
Trekking along the same spots from which we had come, the thrill of the seduction wanes into guilt. Jack may not make it back.
Finally we sit at Moose Meadows. Jack drinks from a freshwater stream. Bald Eagles watch. We have one last, forty-five minute trek through the Spruce and Western Hemlock forest, to reach home. The ground feels soothingly soft, spongy from years of decay. Jack finds a second wind and I have to leash him from running off. He pulls, while Mare and I struggle to keep pace. For the first time, Mare and I notice our own aching bodies.
Back at the cabin in paradise, Jack sleeps on his bed. I almost feel like lighting a cigarette. Instead we crack cold beers, and contemplate the seduction of unfinished business.